May 30, 2015

Daily Sermons, Octave of Pentecost

Daily Sermons, May 26-30.
St Philip Neri, The Name "Holy Spirit", The Fruits of the Holy Spirit, The Joy of the Fruits, and The Holy Spirit as Spouse of the Virgin Mary.

May 27, 2015

May 26 -- St. John's Gospel Compared to the other Gospels. Adult formation on the Gospel of St. John, session 5

Adult formation on the Gospel of John, session 5 -- The Fourth Gospel compared to the others

A consideration of the uniqueness of the Gospel of St. John compared to the other three Gospels.
St. John has a style all his own.
St. John relates more years of Jesus' public ministry.

Handout is below the audio recording.

Pentecost Sunday, May 24 -- The Personhood of the Holy Spirit on our Interior Life

Pentecost Sunday, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church.

The Holy Spirit isn't a "what" or an "it", the Holy Spirit isn't a "thing". The Holy Spirit is a "who", a "he", a Person. He is the Third Person of the Trinity, a real person, more a person than you or I.

If he is a person, then he knows and loves. He knows you and loves you, and he desires you to know and love him -- even as we can know and love the Father and the Son, we are called to have a true friendship with the Holy Spirit.

Every true friendship requires familiar conversation, and this is all the more pertinent with our Divine Friend, the Holy Spirit. How often do you speak with the Holy Spirit? How often do you listen to what he wants to speak to you?

This is the key to growth in holiness -- to listen to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
He hear the Holy Spirit through the dogmatic teachings of the Church, through Sacred Scripture, through the lives of the saints, through legitimate authority, through our families and friends, through our neighbors, and especially through the poor.
Daily prayer allows us to recognize the Holy Spirit's work in our lives.

Listen online [here]!

May 23, 2015

Daily Sermons, Seventh Week of Easter

Daily Sermons, May 18 to 22.
Sts Venantius, Bernardine of Siena, Christopher Magallanes, and Rita of Cascia.

May 20, 2015

May 19 -- The Prologue of St. John's Gospel, part 2. Adult formation on the Gospel of St. John, session 4

A detailed consideration of John 1:1 -- In principio erat Vebrum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum.  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

A consideration of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.

Handout is below the audio recording (same as session 3)

May 17, 2015

Sunday Sermon -- It is better for us that Jesus has ascended

It truly is better for us that Jesus has ascended. We benefit from the removal of his visible presence.

Consider the historical data related the transformation that occurs for the Apostles and the Church after the Ascension. Before the Ascension, the Apostles were cowards and thought in an earthly and human mode; but after the Ascension, they are brave and have an heavenly vision. Before the Ascension, the Church was small and only a very few believed in Jesus; after the Ascension, the Church spread through the whole world and many believed.

This is because the removal of his natural, visible, perceptible presence from us, directs us to Jesus' presence in all the Sacraments and especially in the Holy Eucharist. The Sacraments are more powerful for us precisely because Jesus has ascended.

In our own relationship with Jesus we must not cling to a pre-Ascension mode of relating to him. In the Liturgy, we do not try to go back to how it was at the Last Supper, or to a casual mode on the sea of Galilee; but we allow a post-Ascension mode of relating to Jesus which is more mystical, mysterious, solemn and reverent. 
Again, in the spiritual life, we don't cling to a pre-Ascension relationship by holding on to emotions and feelings, having an highly sentimentalized prayer life; but rather a life of faith, letting go of emotion and consolation so as to grow in a new way, living a life of charity for God and our neighbor.

Listen online [here]!

Daily Sermons of the 6th Week of Easter

Daily Sermons, Friday and Saturday. May 15 and 16.
St Isidore, and the Ascension.

May 10, 2015

Sunday Sermon, May 10th -- The Role of Mary in the Salvation of the human race

A May sermon on the important role which the Blessed Virgin Mary played in salvation history and the role she must play in our own spiritual growth.

God wills that, ordinarily, he should give no grace to the world except that it should come through the Virgin Mary -- the Daughter of God, the Mother of God, the Spouse of God.

The Father placed the Divine Will entirely at the disposal of the will of Mary.
The Son was wholly consecrated to Mary and subjected to her in all things.
The Holy Spirit loves Mary with a perfect and ineffable love.

We too then must be wholly consecrated and submissive to Mary. We too must love her with the most tender affection and devotion.

Listen online [here]!

May 9, 2015

Father's Corner -- Corpus Christi Parish and Catholic Schools in Great Falls

Father’s Corner – Corpus Christi and Catholic Schools

As many have heard, Bishop Warfel is moving forward with plans for a new model for Catholic schools in Great Falls in which parishes and schools are invited to unite to form a single system. At this time, Holy Spirit School and Great Falls Central High School are the two schools and Holy Spirit Parish and St. Ann’s Parish are the two parishes uniting in this school system. At this time, Our Lady of Lourdes School and the Ursuline Early Childhood Center are the two schools who are not joining the consolidation, as well as Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Corpus Christi Parish, and Malmstrom AFB Chapel.

Some have wondered why Corpus Christi Parish has not joined in the new school system. Simply put, there is no little misconception about the support which Corpus Christi offers to Catholic education in Great Falls. Corpus Christi Parish has very clearly expressed support for all Catholic schools in Great Falls and will continue to support Catholic education in whatever form it is present in Great Falls – whether in a single system, or not. Here are just a few ways that Corpus Christi does support and will continue to support Catholic schools in Great Falls:
-          We make financial contributions to the elementary schools, $400 per parish student attending the schools. This adds up to thousands of dollars a year, given as a donation to support the schools.
-          We advertise for the school fundraisers and promote registration for all the Catholic schools not only in our bulletin but also with mounted signs both inside and outside the building. We also have registration materials displayed in the gathering area.
-          Father Ryan has preached about the importance of Catholic education, stating the teaching of the Second Vatican Council that all Catholics are obligated to support Catholic education and that Catholic schooling is to be preferred whenever and wherever possible.
-          A number of our parish families send their children to the Catholic schools.
-          Some parishioners are teachers or administrators for the Catholic schools.
-          Father Ryan is regularly present at Central High School: Offering Mass, hearing confessions, teaching in classrooms, offering presentations during the lunch hour, assisting with monthly adoration. Further, Father Ryan even offered to be a part-time teacher at Central without any payment, when the school was looking for a religion teacher.

All of this, taken together, shows that Corpus Christi Parish is more involved and supportive of Catholic Education in Great Falls than ever in recent history. We are very much a parish which supports and believes in Catholic schools.

It is important also for people to realize that Corpus Christi Parish, although not able to make any further financial contributions (beyond what we are already doing), has offered spiritual and pastoral support for the new school system. We certainly continue to support Catholic education in Great Falls.

That being said, Corpus Christi Parish could not responsibly join fully in the new school unification process on account of the fact that the financial commitment which this would entail has never been clarified. As most know, Catholic education can be extremely costly, and even in our own city we can see that there are major financial concerns which weigh heavily on the future of the Great Falls Catholic schools – this burden is especially great when considering the massive costs associated with the re-opening of Central Catholic High School, a debt which Corpus Christi cannot carry. As much as Corpus Christi Parish supports Catholic education, it would be irresponsible for me as the Pastor to commit the financial resources of our Parish to this new school system, especially when there has been no clear indication of just what this financial commitment would entail. Whenever the schools have been discussed in our Parish Finance Council, it has been clear that any greater financial commitment would be impossible. This concern is only exacerbated by the fact that Corpus Christi Parish is already struggling financially and is still currently running a negative budget – there simply isn’t any ability to give more money to the Great Falls Catholic schools than what we already donate.

Nevertheless, Corpus Christi Parish remains a strong supporter of our Great Falls Catholic schools. In no way does this imply any negative attitude toward public education, nor less to homeschooling (indeed, isn’t the Catholic home the best Catholic school of all?). While respecting the rights of all parents to determine how to educate their children, Corpus Christi Parish seeks only to offer support and guidance for all families in whatever they have determined to be the best model for their particular circumstances. Still, following the Second Vatican Council, our Parish does have a special love for Catholic schools, and we are honored to be able to support Catholic education in Great Falls in whatever form it is found – but we know that all parents must discern for themselves what is truly best and most beneficial for their family.

If I may offer a personal note, I am proud to state that I am entirely a product of Catholic education. I credit my vocation to Catholic schools, as I discerned the call to the priesthood through Billings Central High School. My family became a “Catholic school family” when I was in junior high, and this brought about an incredible conversion for all of us. My brother attended Catholic schools as well. Eventually, my parents made a huge financial sacrifice when mom quit a very good job to become the financial manager for the Billings Catholic School System – she remained in that position for several years and did a lot of good work for the schools. I firmly believe that the future of priestly vocations in our Diocese depends upon Catholic education, especially considering that the number of priestly vocations for our Diocese is heavily dependent upon Catholic schools (although there are certain exceptions, the basic trend is that those who attend Catholic schools are far more likely to answer the call to the priesthood and this holds true for our Diocese as well). I, personally, have the greatest love for Catholic schools and especially for Catholic homeschooling, and I believe that the future of the Church in America rests with Catholic education. That being said, I also know of so many good and inspiring families who send their children to public schools – and I believe that the Church has a duty to offer them the same support, guidance, and care as we do Catholic school families. There certainly should be no sense of discrimination, and the gift of Catholic education should never lead to a sense of superiority, pride, or judgment against those who do not send their children to Catholic schools. Still, speaking personally, Catholic education is among the greatest blessings in my own life – and I am honored to belong to a parish which is so involved in the Catholic schools in Great Falls.

                                                                                                Father Ryan Erlenbush

                                                                                                Pastor, Corpus Christi Parish

Daily Sermons of the 5th week of Easter

Daily Sermons, May 5-9.

Acts of the Apostles, St John, St Stanislaus, St Michael, the Trinity.

May 7, 2015

May 3rd -- The Prologue of St. John's Gospel, part 1. Adult Formation on the Gospel of John, session 3

Introduction to the prologue of St John's Gospel, verses 1:1-18.
This is far and away the most important passage of Sacred Scripture.

Overview of the prologue and consideration of certain themes.

Handout is below the audio recording.

May 6, 2015

Sunday Sermon, April 3 -- Remaining on the Vine, Keeping the Precepts of the Church

Being a good Catholic isn't about "feeling good" but about "doing good", actually living the faith and following the commandments of Christ given through his Church.

To be a good Catholic and a good person, we start with following the "bare minimum" which is the precepts of the Church.

1) Attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day
2) Confess serious sins at least once a year
3) Receive communion worthily at least once a year during Easter season
4) Following the laws of fasting (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) and abstinence (Ash Wednesday and every Friday of the year, though on Fridays outside of Lent in the USA we are permitted to substitute some other form of penance)
5) Contributing to the material needs of the Church
6) Following the laws of the Church with regards to marriage

If you want to grow in holiness, start with these precepts and build from there. Just as we know that it is good to receive communion more than once a year (precept 3), we know that we need confession more than once a year (precept 2), and Mass more than just once a week (precept 1), and we should practice penance on more than just Fridays (precept 4). Of course, we should be generous with the Church (precept 5).

Listen online [here]!

May 2, 2015

Question and Answer about the obligation to practice penance on Fridays

Father’s Q&A on Friday Penance

Following up on the earlier handout regarding the obligation to do penance on all Fridays of the year, a little question and answer:

Does the Church really say I have to do penance on Fridays outside of Lent? Yes, if you are over 14, you are obligated to do penance on all Fridays excepting Solemnities. This was re-affirmed and declared to bind under pain of mortal sin by Pope Paul VI (See Canons 1250-1253 of the Code of Canon Law, and "Paenitemini" by Paul VI, 1966)

Do I have to abstain from meat on every Friday? The US Bishops have allowed you to practice some other penance on Fridays outside of Lent. However, the Bishops state the abstinence from meat on all Fridays still holds "first place" among all forms of penance. But Catholics in the USA are permitted to substitute some other form of penance on Fridays outside of Lent, if they so choose. (See Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence, 1966)

Is it a mortal sin to fail to do penance on Fridays? If you are over 14, it would be a mortal sin intentionally to fail substantially to do penance on Fridays. Thus, it would not necessarily be a mortal sin to fail to do penance on any one Friday, but it would be a mortal sin intentionally to fail to do penance on numerous Fridays throughout the year. Obviously, certain exceptional circumstances (like serious illness) can free us from the obligation to practice penance on a particular Friday.

Am I in mortal sin, if I've never heard about this and have never done Friday penance before?! If you truly did not know, but generally seek to follow the teachings of the Church, you are not guilty of committing a mortal sin you didn't know about. However, we all have the obligation to learn and spread the fullness of the Catholic teaching, so we must strive from now on to practice Friday penance.

Why haven't I heard about this before? If it really is an issue of mortal sin, why haven't other priests told me about this?! Sadly, this is one of many areas where many priests and bishops of the past 50 years have failed gravely in their duty to teach the Catholic faith and guide the people to holiness. And this is no small fault or slight oversight -- the fourth precept of the Church demands that we keep the days of fasting and penance as prescribed by the Church. Friday penance is just the bare minimum for being Catholic! (See Catechism of the Catholic Church 2043)

Daily Sermons April 28 - May 2

Daily Sermons for the 4th Week of Easter.
St Louis Marie De Montfort, St Catherine of Sienna, St Joseph, Pope St Pius V, St Athanasius.